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RESIDENTS OPPOSE CITYWIDE SEWER PLAN

SHARE RESIDENTS OPPOSE CITYWIDE SEWER PLAN

A group of residents want to flush Highland's plan for mandatory, citywide sewer hookups down the drain.

"We're up in arms," said Gary Clifton, the organizer of Citizens for a Better Highland.The group opposes the city's plan that would force residents to abandon septic tanks in favor of connecting to a sewer system at great expense to homeowners.

The City Council has plans to build an estimated $3.3 million sewer system.

"We see discrepancies and inadequacies in sewer hookup fees as the city rushes to enforce, not state-mandated laws, but self-made city ordinances," Clifton said.

The council earlier this year approved an ordinance requiring residents living within the current system's service area to connect to it in the next five years at a cost of $2,350.

Residents might also have to pay an estimated $3,000 impact fee as Highland becomes part of the Timpanogos Special Service District.

In addition, they must pay or perform the labor of running the line from the house to the underground main line.

Clifton estimated the costs could reach as much as $12,000 per household.

"We don't think that's equitable," he said.

To show their displeasure, the group gathered at least 350 names on a petition delivered to the council Wednesday. The residents aren't opposed to a citywide sewer system. But they're against mandatory connections.

Mayor Ed Scott said the city will not enforce its ordinance until officials can "find more practical and affordable" solutions to the problem. Currently, there are about 130 houses within 300 feet of a sewer line, but the city has not required homeowners to hook into it.

The city sent letters to property owners on 9600 North and 6000 West, where two sewer projects are under way, telling them they had to connect to the system. Meanwhile, people building homes elsewhere in the past few months were permitted to install septic tanks.

At Wednesday's meeting, Scott directed city staff members to send a follow-up letter giving residents a reprieve.

"Moving toward sewering the city is not on hold. The issue of mandatory hookup is on hold," Scott said.

Scott said the council is trying to come up with a sewer-system proposal that can be put the residents for a vote.

The resident's group, which packed City Council chambers at two recent meetings, identified one solution: slowing city growth.